India and China agree to stop deploying troops to disputed Himalayan border

China and India on Monday agreed to stop sending more troops to their disputed border in the Himalayas, following an escalation in tensions between the two nuclear powers, and avoid any action that might complicate the tense situation there.
September 23, 2020 | 16:25
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An Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel stands guard at a checkpoint along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district. Photo: Reuters

Senior military officials from both countries met on Monday and exchanged ideas on their contested contested Himalayan border in Ladakh, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, both sides agreed to strengthen communication on the ground to avoid misunderstandings or action "that may complicate the situation."

They also agreed to not take any unilateral action that would change the situation on the ground, according to the statement.

However, the statement did not mention any breakthrough during the talks about the troops’ disengagement.

Prior to the agreement, tensions between the two powers had persisted despite several attempts to find a diplomatic, military and political solution, including repeated negotiations in Moscow this month.

Tensions have been rising in the Himalayas since a bloody clash between Indian and Chinese troops in June and efforts to deescalate in the wake of the violence appeared to be faltering.

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in that incident, the deadliest border conflict with China in over 40 years. China has never acknowledged any casualties from that clash.

Meetings were immediately set up between top Chinese and Indian military officials, and both sides called for calm, but in early September both New Delhi and Beijing accused each other of illegally crossing into their territories, leading to a renewed bout of saber-rattling on both sides.

A week later, China and India accused each other's troops of firing warning shots across the Sino-Indian border, reportedly the first such case in more than four decades. Both sides blamed the other for violating bilateral agreements and taking "provocative" actions, according to the edition.cnn.

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India and China share a 3,500km (2,100-mile) unmarked border through the Himalayas. Photo: AP

The nuclear-armed Asian neighboursshare a 3,500km (2,100-mile) unmarked border through the Himalayas, where an uneasy peace has held since the two countries signed a truce following a war in 1962.

The world’s two most populous nations have been locked in a border dispute since April when rival soldiers engaged in skirmishes at several points on their mountain border.

India and China share a 2,100 mile-long (3,379-kilometer) border in the Himalayas, but both sides claim territory either side of it.

The most recent dispute was around Pangong Tso, a strategically located lake some 14,000 feet (4,200 meters) above sea level that spans an area stretching from the Indian territory of Ladakh to Chinese-controlled Tibet, in the greater Kashmir region, where India, China and Pakistan all claim territory.

In 1996, the two countries signed an agreement which states that neither side shall open fire within 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the LAC to "prevent dangerous military activities."

Since then, thousands of soldiers have been deployed on both sides of the de facto border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with experts concerned tensions might lead to an unintentional war.

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